More than 100,000 visitors from 90-plus countries descended on Düsseldorf, Germany this week for EuroShop 2014, the triennial international trade show. Held Sunday, February 16 through Thursday, February 20, the show offered attendees the opportunity to network, learn the latest trends in retail and visit 2200 exhibits displaying everything from visual merchandising, fixtures, materials and lighting to the latest technological advances supporting operations, customer relationship management and, of course, store design.
With online and mobile retailing having rocketed to retailers' attention since the show was last held in 2011, the primary order of business here focused on what many consider the greatest threat to the very survival of traditional stores and others view as an exciting opportunity for growth and prosperity.
Some show observers viewed the sheer volume of exhibits and attendees as validation of the sustainability of the brick-and-mortar channel, while others expressed disappointment in what they considered a shortage of innovative products and services at this year's show to support the physical store or seamlessly integrate multi-channel retailing.
There was no shortage of discussion, however, of tactics and strategies to combat the online juggernaut. At a session VMSD presented, Lee Peterson, executive vp, WD Partners, and Brian Schafley, president, Chute Gerdeman, emphasized the priority retailers must place on creating stores that are open, social and captivating to remain relevant and exciting to consumers with unlimited shopping options at their fingertips. "It's about emotion more than anything else," said Peterson. "Our research shows that the emotional benefits of the store experience trump the functional benefits of online."
In another VMSD presentation, editor-in-chief Patricia Sheehan shared the latest trends in store design and visual merchandising, including the rise of modern and fresh designs in such traditionally staid service sectors as banks, insurance companies and drugstores, and the importance of brand authenticity and locality to connect with consumers.
While the retail industry in North America and Europe continues to struggle as it recovers from the Great Recession, retail in Asia is exploding in some countries, driven by a rising standard of living and gross domestic product (GDP). "One mall opens every week in Asia," reported Simon Ong, group managing director, Kingsmen Creative Ltd., in a session on Asian retail developments. Travel retail is "huge" he said, with airport stores a leading source of growth, as are mixed-use developments that combine shopping, entertainment, residential options and hospitality.
Responding to the rise of retail in Asia, EuroShop will be expanding its reach next year with the debut of C-star, a satellite event targeting the Chinese market to be held May 13-15, 2015 in Shanghai. The show will be divided into four areas: fixtures, lighting, refrigeration and store design; retail technology; visual merchandising and marketing; and exhibition stand construction.